How the Niger Deltans can get their freedom: The Action Plan! (Part 7)

by Bode Eluyera


Before tackling this problem, first, we need to be reminded again ‘What is Game Theory?’ Game theory (G.T.) is a theory of conflict and co-operation between rational decision makers. It relies heavily on mathematical models and has proven useful to address problems of conflict and co-operation in economics and management science, as well as other areas of science. In such a game, players are rivals and all players act in their own best interest, paying no attention whatsoever to the fortunes of other players. The players often have conflicting interests and make individual or collective decisions.

Non-cooperative games are a very important aspect of Game theory. A non-cooperative game, as we have learnt in part 5 of this series, is a strategic situation in which decision makers cannot make binding agreements to co-operate. In non-cooperative games, the players act independently in pursuit of their own self interest.

Without taking the reader through rigorous mathematical equations and formulas, we are going to show and prove here that the best strategy, as has earlier been pointed out in part 5, is for the militants to play a non-cooperative game with the north because only it is capable of giving the militants and the Niger Deltans the ‘Pareto-optimal’ which is the ‘total’ control over their resources and how the revenues that accrue from them are spent. Pareto optimal is about maximizing all your gains in a deal or transaction. The Niger Deltans can attain a Pareto optimal only if they get rid of the parasitic north and become a sovereign country! In that case, they can spend their money as they like and provide all they want for themselves. In order to accomplish this, obviously, they don’t need Yaradua’s special ministry. Moreover, Yaradua’s proposal of a special ministry, as we have already learnt from our analysis, is far from being the Pareto-optimal!

Therefore, the best tactics the militants need to adopt is to tell Yaradua to go to hell with his ministry and continue demanding for a national referendum as the first stop to resolving the crisis in the region. What are the advantages of this position? They include the following:

1. First and foremost, it is a legitimate position in the sense that it is written in the United Nations charter that no ethnic group could be forced to co-exist within a country or with other ethnic groups against their will. It’s an undisputed fact that the Ijaws, Itsekiris, Ibiobios, Ogonis, Yorubas, Igbos and other ethnic groups in the Niger Delta are forced to live within Nigeria together with the Hausas and Fulanis.

2. The special ministry still amounts to nothing but legalized robbery and internal colonialism. Yaradua’s proposal is a world apart from the Pareto optimal of the militants, or what is even worth giving any serious consideration.

3. By taking such a position, the militants, de-facto are not saying that they are not ready to negotiate, all they are saying is that before any negotiations about special ministry, federalism, e.t.c., they want the respective ethnic groups in the region to first voice their opinion as regards to their desire to remain in Nigeria with the unproductive and parasitic north. After all, this is what the rule of law is all about. Isn’t it?

4. Such a position gives the militants time to plan ahead and strengthen their leverage.

5. This position puts a lot of pressure on Yaradua, the North, British and Americans and multinationals because without the consent and/or co-operation of the militants there can be no peace and stability in the Niger Delta, and without it, neither the north, the British, Americans nor multinational oil companies can have unrestricted access to the oil and gas in the region. Consequently, Yaradua, the north, British, Americans and the multinational oil companies will have no choice than to meet the demands of the militants or/and engage them in full scale negotiations.

6. The crisis is still at the beginning stage and is yet to reach a critical point, when the economic loss of Nigeria, Britain, America and the multinationals will become ‘unbearable.’ The players are yet to make their best offer. It’s too early to settle for Yaradua’s ‘peanuts.’

7. There is the danger that the ministry after all, will be nothing but an empty promise, just like Yaradua’s 7 point agenda, which is no more than an ’empty slogan’ lacking any serious plan or action.

8. There is the danger that it may be declared unconstitutional and scraped by a new administration that will emerge after Yaradua.

9. Since Yaradua has already promised a special ministry, and if we are to assume that he will not renege on his promise, at least the militants already have a special ministry in their pocket, therefore by holding on to their position, they have nothing to loose. Such a position increases the probability of getting more concession from Yaradua, including achieving their ultimate goal of complete resource control.

10. The militants don’t even have any control over the new ministry.

In other to get a better understanding of the reason why the best position for the militants from the tactical point of view is to reject a special Ministry and continue demanding for a referendum, another example needs to be given.

Supposing that you have a property or investment that is worth $500 billion, and a stranger comes up to you – let’s call him Mr. Y – and offers to pay you just 0.05% (please note: not 0.5% or 5%, but 0.05%). Is there any economic sense in you going into such a transaction? If we assume that you are in your right senses and rational in your decision making, then, the answer is definitely NO. But, to add salt into injury, apart from the fact that Mr. Y. is offering you just 0.05% of the worth of your property, he does not even have his own money to pay you – in the event that you miraculously and against all odds or expectation agree to the humiliating amount he has offered to pay – so that you can buy whatever you want immediately, without any delay. He intends to first sell your property on your behalf to a third party at a profit, collect the money and later deduct the 0.05% of the cost of your property that he has offered to pay. Undoubtedly, anybody in his right senses will not only reject Mr. Y’s offer flatly, but as well tell him to go to hell!

In a normal market setting, if Mr. Y. is really determined to buy your property, it’s obvious that he won’t make you such a ridiculous offer. He has 2 options. Either come up with the $500 billion you asked for or forget about the deal entirely and allow you to go ahead and sell it to another buyer. However, what makes our example more interesting, complicated and unique is that Mr. Y. is not a typical buy. Mr. Y. is a BANDIT who is determined to pay you not more than 0.05% of the worth of your property – and remember, with your own money after he must have sold it – and will NOT allow you neither to keep it to yourself nor sell it to another potential buyer! So, what do you do if you find yourself in such a terrible and unpleasant situation? Under such a scenario, your best response to Mr. Y’s blackmail is to continue shouting NO! NO! NO! on top of your voice until he either comes up with a reasonable offer that reflects the real or market worth of your property or he leaves you alone to sell to another buyer ready to buy your property at the market price. Any other response or decision, apart from the above, will be a fatally wrong one, which you will live to regret in the nearest future!

How does the above example relate to the real life situation in the Niger Delta, most especially the special ministry of Niger Delta? In the name of building a fake and non-existing one Nigeria that the Niger Deltans never subscribed to, the descendants of Usman Dan Fodio have taken over the vast mineral resources in the Niger delta, which is worth more than $10 trillion; negotiated and signed all oil and gas exploration contracts with multinational oil companies, without involving the bonafide owners of the resources. After almost 50 years of economic and political deprivation and serious protest from the indigenes, the north, represented by Yaradua, now comes up with an idea of a special Ministry which will give back the indigenes 0.05% of their own money, at most.


In game theory, when a transaction does not just come with a cost or price, but with a very high cost, the role of time is of strategic importance. A shrewd player who is aware of this fact and uses time as a strategic weapon to fight or compete against his enemies, competitors or adversaries will eventually emerge the winner. An analysis of the conflict in the Niger delta shows that time is not only on the side of the militants but the transaction costs of the crisis to the 3 monsters are increasing daily. Each day of the conflict is costing the 3 monsters significant amount of money. Therefore, from the point of view of game theory and transaction cost, the best tactics for the militants to adopt in the conflict is to prolong the conflict in the region as long as possible by turning down all proposals from Yaradua and the north except a national referendum which will eventually give them the Pareto optimal needed to take full control over their resources. In addition, the longer the crisis in the Niger delta, the higher the price of oil and gas, the more the losses that multinational oil companies will incur. Therefore, if Yaradua refuses to meet the demand of the militants, the cost of the crisis to the 3 monsters will continue to increase, which subsequently put more pressure on them to meet the demands of the militants. Although, it’s as simple as A, B, C, but, it takes an analytical mind to figure this out.

As has already been pointed out in part 4 of this series, the British, Americans and other western countries are badly in need of cheap and abundant oil from the Niger delta. But, they can get the amount of oil they need on the condition that there is peace and stability in the region. Likewise, multinational oil companies have invested billions of dollars in the Niger delta. Obviously, they need to recoup their investments – as a matter of fact, they have already recouped their investments 10, 000 times over through lopsided contracts signed with the north on behalf of Nigeria and evasion of taxes running into tens of billions of dollars through the use of different tax schemes including offshore taxation. In any case, in other to recoup their investments, the multinationals need to pump and as well sell as much oil and gas as possible – without any restriction. In order for them to achieve this goal, there is the need for peace and stability in the region. The same applies to Nigeria. Without peace and stability in the region, it can not get the needed revenues to run the country, most especially, the provision infrastructures that the country is badly in need of. In a nutshell, without the co-operation of the militants, it is just impossible for these 3 monsters to achieve their respective goals. What this means in essence is that the ‘Joker is in the hands of the militants and as MEND recently declared “”Peace in the Niger Delta will be determined from the mangrove creeks and not from air-conditioned rooms in Abuja,” What a pity for these 3 monsters. The Niger delta crisis is far from reaching a ‘critical stage’ when the losses of the 3 monsters will become ‘glaring and unbearable.’ The multinational still have or have made more than enough profits to cushion their losses in the Niger delta. All the militants need to do now is not to bulge, hold on to their position and wait for this critical moment. Time is on their side and working for them. When that critical moment eventually arrives, the 3 monsters will have just 2 options: either carry out the demands of the militants as regards to a referendum or use full force to remove them. Part 7 will focus completely on what the militants need to do in order to neutralize completely this only advantage that these 3 monsters may seem to have.


You may also like

Leave a Comment